September - Dirk-Jan Boerman from Beach Mission
This months Community Hero is Dirk-Jan Boerman from Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, close to Rotterdam in Holland. Dirk is the co-founder of Beach Mission who work in several European holiday resorts over the summer months.
Dirk grew up in a Christian family with a view of God that he had to obey many rules and that to be a Christian would mean a boring life. Dirk explains,
“I was trying to keep in the middle, I didn’t want to make a choice for a long time.
“On one side I believed that God existed but on the other side I wanted to have a free life.
“At 16 years old I went to a Christian concert and a speaker shared that God cared for me and wanted me to have a personal relationship with him.
“That message spoke deep into my heart and all of a sudden I comprehend what the message of the Gospel was but thought I may change my mind by the next day so responded privately by praying that I was not sure if I could give my all.”
This prayer led to Dirk reading the Bible over and over and the messages from the preacher becoming very relevant and real to Dirk.
After High School Dirk went to Delft University to study biochemical engineering.
At University there were very few Christians and Dirk was struck by the way other students spoke about Christians with many saying if you are a bad scientist you believe in God as he is the answer to all problems which cannot be solved.
“I started to pray with other Christians at University and after a while I recognised the need for more sharing of faith and others advised that I would be a good person to do this.
“A group on the University were active in sharing their faith on the streets on Wednesday’s and after many weeks I decided to join them.
“I thought sharing my faith would be hard and difficult but I had very good conversations and was really happy to do so.”
In the Summer Dirk became involved in an organisation, Naar House, that was evangelising in the city as well as at raves. Dirk was involved in Naar House for 12 years and became part of the board of trustees.
“Having a good conversation is not the goal of mission work.
“Jesus did not say go and have a good conversation, pray a prayer of decision or go and make people sit in a church.
“Jesus said go and make disciples.”
Dirk started to look at how there could be better follow-up with those who had fruitful conversations. In 2007 he led a team to holiday resorts in Holland with a vision to go where the young people they met at the raves went on holiday.
“My vision was for summer resorts and so in 2014 I left Naar House to focus on reaching people in holiday resorts abroad.
“This was the start of Beach Mission.”
Since 2014 Dirk has coordinated 20 teams who have served at holiday resorts across Europe including Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, Albufeira in Portugal and Salou and Lloret de Mar in Spain as well as Texel in Holland.
“Every night the teams are round and about in the nightlife wearing yellow polo shirts with a different bible verse which is unique to the individual on the back.
“The yellow shirts are easily spotted and a conversation starts quite easily.
“We are also able to help them by assisting them to the hotel or apartment and giving out flip-flops, bottles of water and bracelets with the web site which are very popular.
“We invite those we reach to a twice-weekly barbecue where we have free food, music, DJ and someone who will share their life story.
“For those who are interested they can stay a little longer and we offer the first night of the Alpha Course which is available in many languages and in every European country.”
This year has been very different to other years with coronavirus affecting the trips, with Bulgaria and Spain needing to be cancelled and only Holland and Albufeira going ahead.
“The trips still resulted in people coming to faith, people been baptised and miracles happening.
“We experienced God very close and the week in Portugal was very special with God’s presence very close.
“We do our work to help others but the first blessing we receive is for each person on the team.”
Dirk shared the story of a bizarre evening whilst on BeachMission.
"Cees and Ricardo decided to sing a song for a boy.
"He called his friends back, which led to a large circle singing about God.
"Outside the circle a boy and girl were watching and so one of the team Ricardo walked over to them.
"Another of the team, Femke, wondered what was wrong with the girl's (Maelle) foot, since it was in a cast.
"Because they were French Viveck helped to translate and after a chat we offered to pray for her foot.
"She indicated that it gave a peaceful feeling and Ricardo stepped out by asking if she wanted to walk which Maelle did and reported that the pain had diminished.
"We immediately decided to pray again, after which she started walking again, still pain free.
"The team prayed that Jesus would take away all the pain and heal her broken foot, and yes God did the miraculous and she walk without pain!
"It was really, really great to see what God was doing here, he touched her heart, yet her boyfriend though sceptical could not deny what a miracle Jesus has done in the life of his girlfriend.
"God again and again shows His greatness through miracles, worship and great conversations."
Beach Mission is a very practical way of reaching mainly young people on holiday across Europe. Dirk and the team are now looking to plan for 2021 putting in place logistics around covid. For more information visit en.beachmission.org